Rutgers falls at Maryland after Florida training
Winter break may have been a relaxing time for some, but it was no vacation for the Rutgers swimming and diving team. The team remained busy with a training trip to Indian Shores, Fla., and a loss against Maryland, 180-119, on Jan. 8 in Annapolis, Md.
The Scarlet Knights (2-4, 1-3) raised money for two years in order to fund their trip to the Sunshine State. Florida's beautiful weather allowed the team to train outdoors and in unique ways.
"We could all train with a clear mind, free of worrying about school or other obligations," said junior Jacquelyn Ward. "It made it easy for us to concentrate on swimming and swimming only. It allowed us to take care of our bodies more than we might normally do, like stretching and icing more."
The Knights were able to practice swimming longer distances and incorporate "dry land" work, such as running. Head coach Phil Spiniello deemed the trip a success and fundraising for the next trip in two years will begin in the near future, he said.
"The Florida trip helped us improve in a number of areas. The amount of good solid training helped us improve," Spiniello said. "[The trip] helped from a team building standpoint in that it was a good trip for everyone to bond. And it was just a nice change of pace training outdoors."
Rutgers faced Maryland at the Naval Academy, where the Maryland men's team tangled with Navy and the women's team battled the Knights. The meet came just one day after the team returned from its Florida trip.
"Maryland is one of the best teams in the ACC and we were coming off our training trip," Spiniello said. "We were at a pretty tired point in our season. We were ready and we did well for the point of the season we were at."
There were several bright spots for the Knights that bode well for the future of the program despite losing the overall meet. Freshman Chelsea Rolin was the surprise of the day, grabbing two first place finishes in her Rutgers' debut.
Rolin needed to finish school in Canada before enrolling at Rutgers and joined the squad for the spring semester. She made a huge impact in her first meet as a Knight by winning the 800-meter freestyle with a time of 9:02.26 and the 400-meter freestyle in 4:27.35.
Junior Jacquelyn Ward continued her excellent season and added a victory in the 200-meter individual medley by touching the wall in 2:20.91. Michelle Berman, Brianne Lindblad and Emilie Kaufmann also chipped in with second place finishes.
Senior captain Jen Betz once again paced the divers by adding wins in the one- and three-meter dives to her already impressive farewell tour. Betz posted a score of 295.15 in the one meter and continued her dominance in the three meter by scoring 329.80.
"It felt great to be back competing again," Betz said. "It had been a while since our last meet, but coming off a week of solid training we all knew we were prepared to dive our best. I was really excited to be able to have a meet like that, with only one meet left before Big East."
The Knights return home this weekend to host the Rutgers Invitational at the RU Aquatic Center. The action kicks off Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. in the last home meet of the season.